Moulin Rouge trips are business as usual, says broker

Heath Lambert has expressed surprise after being hit by sleaze allegations in national newspapers this week.

The broker was accused in The Guardian of paying for members of an Ecuadorian military team to visit Rome and the Moulin Rouge in Paris, while the team was in London to negotiate the renewal of cover for the country's air force.

It was reported that the team's European trip has caused a political scandal in Ecuador.

However, a Heath Lambert spokesman said the company felt it had received unwarranted attention.

He said: "There was a tender process as normal, which Heath Lambert won on price and by meeting the tender requirements.

"After that they [Heath Lambert] agreed to pay the travel expenses of the team that came over."

The spokesman said the trip cost £80 per day per member of the delegation.

"They weren't living it up at the Dorchester," he said.

"I think it would be a fair comment that Heath Lambert is surprised at the reaction."

An industry insider backed the stance that such corporate hospitality was commonplace.

"It's not unusual in the UK but it's seen as unusual in some other countries," he said.

"In the UK, deals are not necessarily done on the back of hospitality. It's part of relationship building and trying to understand where the client is coming from. Lots of companies do it."

The Ecuadorian Embassy did not reply to Insurance Times in time for publication.

l What do you think? Is the insurance industry being unfairly criticized? Email: Christine@instimes.co.uk .